A dark autumn's night.
It was a cold autumn night, the moon shone high in the sky while the wind blew the leaves of the trees that were now shedding the reddish foliage all over the forest that surrounded Ferndean.
The curtains were not closed, and the moonlight bathed the room with a silver light, that mingles with the light of the fire that was almost extinguished in the fireplace. Jane laid in bed, and her husband, Edward, seemed to be in deep sleep. Jane however, was wide awake, he eyes fixed in the ceiling, lost in thoughts that keep her awake, even though it was almost midnight.
Jane sighed. She was in the sixth month of her pregnancy, and even now it seemed like a wonder how everything happened, from being a forgotten lonely girl, an outcast in a small village, to being mistress of a grand state and wife of the master of vast lands. She rubbed her belly and smiled, she felt her baby inside sleeping, and smiled. This baby was the proof of the deep love she felt for Edward, and his love for her. Both of them were new at parenting, and the news of Jane's pregnancy had took Edward by surprise, of course this was going to happen, Edward and Jane were completely addicted to each other, couldn't get enough of each other, but both of them hadn't talked about children when Jane announced they were going to have a baby.
Edward was delighted, he felt his life was complete now, but deep inside, Jane knew Edward was very affraid. She couldn't tell exactly of what, of being a father, of having the responsibility of guiding a human being through life, maybe of putting Jane's health at risk? She couldn't tell, but she knew him well enough to know he was happy, but scared at the same time.
As Jane kept thinking all these thoughts, she heard Edward moan, and breath harder. He was laying down over his stomach and his face rested on the crook of his right arm, a sleeping position he was quite comfortable, and the only position Jane knew Edward could sleep deeply.
He was still, but the moans, suffocated by the pillow, increased but didn't form a word or an understandable sound. He began to roll, to pant, and with a clumsy movement, he positioned himself over his back, the panting increasing, and now murmuring "no" over and over again as he quivered, his brows frowning and sweat rolling down his brow.
Jane knew he was having a bad dream, he's had them before, early in their marriage, he would wake up gasping and rising violently, something that had scared Jane very much in the beginning of their time living together. He hasn't had nightmares in a long time, it was a surprise for Jane to see him so altered again. She turned to him and began to shake him, but it wouldn't work, he wouldn't wake up.
"Edward, Edward wake up" Jane began to whisper while she shook him with both arms, but he kept mumbling "no, stop" as he kept trembling, sweating and panting. Suddenly, he grabbed with his hand the sheets and mattress, sat up quickly as he gasped and cried "NO!" so loud Jane felt how the baby inside her jumped, scared and uneasy.
Edward, after saying these words, opened his eyes and woke up in a sea of sweat; panting as if he had ran for miles, his hand still holding very tight the mattress. His chest rose and fell in a fast rhythm, trying to catch some air, his hair soaked in sweat, and his eyes wide open fixed on nothing, blinking rapidly as the tears ran freely down his cheeks.
Jane sat in the bed, held her tummy with her right hand, and with her left hand caressed Edward's back, as she whispered, "what's wrong Edward?"
Him, still trying to breathe normally, turned to her, his face was white pale, his mouth half opened, he looked as if he had seen a ghost. "Oh Jane, oh my God" and he threw himself to her and wept, holding her tight with his arms and placing his head in her chest. Jane was overwhelmed by his reaction; she was confused and had no idea what had happened. Edward has had his fair share of nightmares, product of the accident he suffered and the lonely months he spent, but he never had a reaction like this one.
She cradled his head with her arms, and just whispered "hush now love… I'm here for you, I'll always will be"… Edward calmed himself down, took Jane's left hand, kissed it, sat in bed, and leaned on the headboard of the bed.
"I had a horrible nightmare… this one is nothing like the others I've had and shared with you, this one was the worst I've had in my entire life", said he, as he wiped the tears and dried his brow with his hand.
Jane sat closer to Edward, and leaned on him as he placed his right arm around her, holding her tight, and as she rested her head on Edward's broad and muscular chest. "Tell me about it, you'll feel better once you do" said Jane as she caressed Edward's arms with her fingers.
"I'm not so sure about that… this one was truly terrible, and I don't want to startle you or the baby with my nonsense… We better get back to sleep" whispered Edward, trying to sound calm, but Jane knew him so well she knew none of them could sleep unless Edward freed himself from this horrible experience.
Jane reached to kiss Edward's cheek, and placed her lips on his ear as she said very softly: "Please trust me… I want to be here with you and dismiss all the fears you may have, as silly as they may seem to you, they are quite serious to me".
Edward smiled, turned to face her, and kissed her softly and tenderly, and smiled to her in a sad, but meaningful way. "Very well.. as you just said, it's silly and probably not even worth talking about, but I trust you and I want you to know what made me scream like a madman and wake you and my baby up". He lowered his arm and reached her belly as he said this, rubbing her and feeling how the baby began to calm down inside her mother's womb.
"The dream started confusing, as most dreams do, I remember I was walking with you holding your hand, I looked at myself and was whole again, both of my hands, my eyes seeing everything perfectly, no scars or trace of any accident.
We were walking in some meadow, it was a sunny spring day, the birds twittered, butterflies roamed freely around us, the grass was wet and the smell of flowers and honey was fragrant. We talked, you laughed and I laughed too, it was a beautiful indeed, everything seemed right, and we were both happy, I kept kissing you and your belly, caressing it and felt how our baby kicked and moved, this filled both of us with joy and made us laugh again and again.
All of the sudden, you froze, I kept talking to you but you ignored me, it seemed like you couldn't see me, but all the same, you didn't seem distressed, you seemed serious, cold, distant. I tried to touch you, but then you began to walk, or actually to float like a ghost, leaving me behind. I shouted your name, kept screaming trying to make you hear me and make you turn back and see me. You kept moving, separating more and more from me. I began to follow you, walking first, then pacing faster, finally running, but no matter how fast I ran, I could never catch you. The beautiful day turned into a gloomy one, clouds in the sky, the sensation of the icy wind blowing, no more birds, no more smells but those of mud and decay, the grass was dead and no plants were around to show a taint of green or color. Everything was gray, and the only sound I could hear was my voice being silenced by the wind and the thunders in the sky.
As I kept running, a deep mist covered everything, and all of the sudden; I was wrapped in a cold, white veil of fog. I saw myself again… my amputated limb, I touched my face and the scar was there, however, I could still see. I saw the white mist covering everything, and your figure, very dimly, far ahead of me. Again I shouted "Jane, Jane stop!" but nothing could make you turn around, and then, you were gone. I ran towards you, but then I fell… odd… you know how when you dream you are falling or about to fall, you wake up? Well this was not the case."
Edward made a pause, swallowed hard and hesitated whether he should continue or not. Jane reached his hand to his hair and combed it behind his ear, and just said "well? And then what happened?"
"Then, I fell in a hard surface, but up to then I had no idea where I was…I just felt an intense heat around me, it was infernal, my vision was blurry so I had no idea what was happening… and then my nostrils were flooded by the smell of smoke, it was everywhere, black and thick invading my lungs and clouding my vision. I reincorporated myself, stood up and then I knew where I was. I was in Thornfield's roof, a raging fire was devouring all around me, and I saw a figure standing in the ledge, wearing a long white gown, lose hair, and seemed to be holding something.
Of course this was a recreation of what happened in Thornfield, and I began calling "Bertha, Bertha turn around and look at me, come here, you don't know what you are doing". Then, she turned, only it wasn't her, it was you…". Edward made another pause, to hear Jane's reaction, if there was any at all.
Jane just said "hmmm… How odd", trying to sound unimpressed, but in reality she was not expecting that at all. "And then what happened?"
Edward swallowed hard, hugged Jane tighter, kissed her head and continued, "when I realized it was you, I almost fainted in the dream… I said "Jane?" incredulous. You were no longer pregnant, you were holding a baby in your arms, and you were looking at me vaguely, with your eyes absent. I began to hear the cries of the baby, and begged you to come to me, to bring our baby to me, that I would keep you both safe. Right then, you raised your head and locked your eyes on me… Your gaze was cold, almost accusing, mockingly even… you looked at me and … and you…" Edward stopped, unable to continue.
Jane breathed quietly, the sound of Edward's heartbeat was so loud, she was afraid he would suffer a seizure. Jane turned to see Edward; his face was pale, his sweat again resuming, a single tear trickling from his sealed eye. She kissed the small salt drop, kissed hi slips and said "Darling, whatever it is you dreamed, it's not true, hasn't happened. It was only a dream, you, me, our baby to come, is the reality, and in this reality there's nothing but love and happiness."
These words gave Edward courage to continue. He smiled, a faint smile, and kissed Jane softly in her lips, then resumed; "you dropped our baby to the ground. As the infant was falling, I threw myself to catch him before he hit the ground, but once he did, the screams and cries disappeared, and the cloth that was covering the baby was all that it was… the baby was gone, vanished completely leaving absolutely no trace behind but the little blanket.
I began to cry, and saw you, you stood in that ledge, your eyes still seeing me severely, never leaving me. I pleaded you to come back to me, assuring you that I could take care of you, but you smiled, a sardonic smile and just said "look at you… you can't see, your limbs are incomplete… how could you possibly take care of me like that, when you couldn't take care of your first wife and you were then complete?" I began to cry frantically, to shout your name over and over again, to implore you to come to me and get away from that ledge, I got up and as fast as I could, tried to reach you, to hold you, but then you jumped out of that ledge, laughing with that infernal laugh I heard from Bertha when she took her own life. I woke up then".
There was a moment of silence between them. Jane was overwhelmed, that was indeed a horrible, terrible nightmare, even she couldn't imagine how awful it was until Edward finished to tell her. Meanwhile, Edward was growing uneasy with her silence, he knew what he had just said wasn't a thing to take lightly even though it was a dream, but he desperately wanted to know what Jane felt, if it was some sort of sign of Jane not being sure about Edward's ability to look after her and their baby.
"Jane?" He whispered. She reacted: "I'm sorry my love, I was distracted… Indeed that was an awful dream, but it was just that, a dream, and it's over now."
"Do you think that Jane? Be honest with me… do you believe I am a capable husband and will be able to take care of you and our child?" said Edward in a shaky voice… "What if this dream was an omen, a sign that I was not meant to be your husband, or to have a child… Look at me. It is true, I'm not a complete man, I have to be lead by the hand like a child, can't do most things by myself without the help of somebody else… Not only I am a blind lament, I am also a disfigured being, where my hand should be is nothing but a stump… I don't blame myself for Bertha, I did what I could for her, of course there's always something else I could have done, but her state of mind was not my fault, but it is true, even when I was a whole man, I could not stop her from jumping to her death. Now that I am this wreck of a man, how could I take care of my family?".
After saying this, Edward began to sob, he was overwhelmed by a revelation he thought was presented to him in the shape of a horrible nightmare. For him it was all very real and true, he was blind, had no hand, and his insecurities were always prying in his mind, attacking when he felt most vulnerable. With Jane's pregnancy, he felt he now had to live for the infant, and the thought of losing Jane in childbirth, as it was not a rare event back then, was always prowling in the darkest part of his thoughts.
Jane, gave him a few minutes to weep freely, to release all the tension he had, and after he calmed himself somewhat, she supported her weight with her arms, sat down facing him with a very serious expression, and took his face with both hands. "Listen to me Edward. I am here with you because I want to be here with you, nobody is forcing me to stay, not you, no our baby, nobody. I am here because I know in this world there is absolutely nobody else who could make me feel anything, not even close to how you make me feel, you complete me. You are a wonderful husband, you do take care of me even though you don't feel you do, by your side I feel safe, secure, loved. By your side I've found true happiness, bliss and joy. I don't want you to have lingering doubts that I don't think you can take care of me, or of our child, you do that every day by sheltering us both under your love and your protection. I understand your frustration, I know not being able to see or to use both hands must be hard, but you are still you. I fell in love with you when you hadn't suffered your wounds, but I love you now even more, I love it that I am necessary to you, I love to help you daily, don't you see it? This has made our link between us grow stronger, the fact that we spend almost every hour of the day together has attached us more than it could have if you would have your "Independence", figuratively speaking. I love you Edward more than words can express, and there's nothing, and nobody on this Earth who could ever take better care of me, and make me happier, you are all I want, all I'll ever want."
With this long statement made by Jane, Edward smiled, again a tear ran down his face, but he wiped it out immediately. This was not a sad tear, it was a joyous one, after hearing Jane assuring him of her deep love and confidence in him, his fear vanished. He reached with his hand to caress Jane's face, and also felt her face damp from her own tears. He said in a solemn, firm voice, his old confidence back and his fears fading away: "Jane, you are the reason I breathe. You and our unborn baby are my world, and as long as I have you both with me, I will never stop fighting, I will always keep you both safe and loved, I swear it."
Jane smiled, hearing him saying that made her feel like she was his strength, and inside herself, even though she didn't say it, she vowed the same thing; that as long as she had her baby and Edward in his life, she will always live and devote herself to them. Thinking that, she only whispered, "I love you so much…"
As she said that, she felt the baby kicking, and she giggled. She took Edward's hand and placed him in her belly; "I guess somebody inside me wants to let you know how much you are loved, my dear". Edward smiled a tender, warm and broad smile as he rubbed her, and bent to kiss her belly, and then her lips.
With the fear gone, Edward settled his head on the pillow, took Jane in his arms and fell in a long, deep sleep, free of all fears and insecurities, with a future ahead of them even brighter than he ever dared to dream of.